Council considers parking alternative

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By Louis Wyatt
lwyatt@kpcmedia.com

LEO-CEDARVILLE — The town of Leo continues to search for solutions for downtown parking as part of its nearly $1.5 million streetscape project, which is scheduled to begin construction in 2024. During a Town Council meeting June 18, Town Manager Patrick Proctor and Derek Frederickson, of Engineering Resources, proposed a possible alternative to off-street parking, which would allow for more spaces at a fraction of the cost.

The town previously considered buying one of several private properties in the downtown area to develop a parking lot. However, Frederickson said any of the proposed locations would mean spending upward of $250,000 while allowing for only about 50 parking spaces.

As an alternative, Frederickson said, the town could consider extending road improvements down a side street or combination of side streets within the downtown area, making way for as many as 120 on-street parking spaces at an estimated $1,500 per space.

You might have a $250,000 investment, but you’re getting potentially twice as many parking spaces,” Frederickson said. “… It’s not ideal — it’s not a nice, dense location for parking spaces — but it’s another alternative to consider.”

Frederickson added that the council could also pursue a Community Crossings Matching Grant that would cover 75% of the total construction costs for the parking project.

Council member Greg Peck likened the proposal to what was included in a recent streetscape project in Auburn, which includes several angled parking spaces on the city’s downtown streets. Peck said while he believes a similar design could work in Leo, he has received negative feedback from some of the downtown residents — many of whom are concerned about privacy issues and trash that might come with the project. However, Peck still supported the proposal as an effective alternative.

“It’s a necessity, I feel, that we get downtown parking, and it’s obvious that some of the larger areas that we’ve wanted to develop may or may not happen dollar-wise, so why not use the resources we already have?” he said. “If we’re going to improve the streets, improve it to the point where we’re using it to our benefit.”

Proctor told council members they would have to come to a decision on whether or not to submit a Community Crossings Matching Grant application for the project by their next meeting, as the Indiana Department of Transportation will begin taking proposals July 1.

The council will have its first public hearing on the downtown streetscape project in August.

In other news

  • The Town Council invites residents to attend a public meeting 6 p.m. July 2 at Town Hall to hear their thoughts on potentially extending Main Street through to Walnut Street along what is currently Beulah Drive. Council members are considering reopening the roadway — which has been blocked off by guardrails for several years — because of concerns regarding first-responder access.